Tampa Bay Misdiagnosis Lawyer
St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice Law Firm Helping Victims of Misdiagnosis in Tampa Bay
Accurate diagnosis is the first step in treating an illness. Unfortunately, serious conditions are far too often misdiagnosed or completely missed by the doctor whom the patient is seeing. A wrong or delayed diagnosis can have serious or fatal consequences. For instance, a complete cure of many types of cancer can be had if diagnosed and treated early, but these same cancers can be fatal if caught too late. If you or a family member suffered harm from a misdiagnosis, you may be able to recover compensation from the doctor or hospital responsible, which can help with medical bills, lost income and other expenses. The Tampa Bay misdiagnosis lawyers at Masterson, Hoag & Smith can help you get the compensation you need and deserve after a harmful misdiagnosis.
Misdiagnosis – The Leading Cause of Medical Malpractice in St. Petersburg and Nationwide
A 25-year study of US malpractice claims found that misdiagnosis was responsible for more malpractice claims than any other medical error. In fact, more than one-fourth of all malpractice claims were due to misdiagnosis. A more chilling fact revealed by the study is that misdiagnosis was responsible for 44% of patient deaths and 33.8% of disabilities resulting from medical malpractice. Not only are they the most common, they are also the most costly and the most deadly. The author of yet another study brought the problem home this way: “Most people will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, sometimes with devastating consequences.” At Masterson, Hoag and Smith, our attorneys focus their practice on medical malpractice claims in St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay, and we can help you if you or a family member has been harmed by a doctor’s misdiagnosis.
Best Practices may Demand a Differential Diagnosis
In many cases, the symptoms presented by a patient could indicate more than one type of illness, disease or condition. In this case, best medical practices require doctors to perform a differential diagnosis, gathering the information they need and running appropriate tests to make the correct diagnosis. One recent British study of ovarian cancer patients found that more than 40% of study participants needed three trips to the doctor before they were finally referred for cancer screening. In many types of cancer, including breast, cervical, lung, testicular and colon cancer, catching the cancer early is critical to curing the disease and avoiding a terminal outcome. Other illnesses where early accurate diagnosis is critical include stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, infection and pneumonia.
Bad Hospital Practices Promote Misdiagnosis
In a busy clinic, hospital or other medical facility, doctors and nurses may rush through their patients in order to see everybody in the waiting room. The diagnostic process, however, is a critical stage in medical treatment that simply cannot be rushed. Even worse, some doctors and hospitals may fail to order appropriate tests solely as a cost-containment measure. Nevertheless, medical providers have a duty to perform all tests that a reasonable doctor would consider to be customary and necessary under similar circumstances, regardless of cost or insurance reimbursement.
Misdiagnosis is often to blame for many serious or fatal illnesses, including:
- Ovarian Cancer – In a recent British study, ovarian cancer was missed nearly half of the time.
- Lung Cancer – Doctors and radiologists don’t recognize a mass on a chest x-ray as possible cancer indicating the need for additional testing.
- Colon Cancer – A colonoscopy should uncover signs of colon cancer, yet this simple procedure is often not ordered, or best practices are not followed during the procedure.
- Sepsis – Sepsis occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to an infection, leading to oxygen-deprivation of vital organs. Doctors and hospitals should be alert to the possibility of sepsis or septic shock following surgery or as part of wound care. Failure to recognize and treat sepsis immediately can result in permanent damage or death.
Other frequently missed diagnoses include heart attack, stroke, arterial blockage, or deep vein thrombosis, which can cause internal bleeding, brain damage and death.
Misdiagnosis is Preventable Medical Malpractice
Despite how common it seems to be, misdiagnosis is far from an inevitability. Simple steps could prevent misdiagnoses from occurring, such as:
- Better teamwork among medical professionals in communicating with patients and their families
- Better education and training for health care professionals regarding the diagnostic process
- Incorporation of appropriate health information technologies
- Implement strategies for health care professionals to learn from their mistakes rather than repeating them
- Create a reporting system for diagnostic errors and near misses
Doctors and radiologists have a duty to conduct the tests available to them when called for, and to use care and attention when looking at test results. Misdiagnosis due to negligence or incompetence is simply inexcusable, and doctors and hospitals can and should be held liable for their errors.
That said, misdiagnosis cases can be challenging to prove. The misdiagnosis victim must be able to prove that best practices were not followed, and that the patient would have had a better outcome had he or she been correctly diagnosed at the outset. With decades of experience in medical malpractice and millions of dollars in successful recoveries behind us, the attorneys at Masterson, Hoag & Smith have the knowledge, skills and abilities to pursue a misdiagnosis claim on your behalf.
Proving a Misdiagnosis Requires Medical Experts & Skilled Legal Help
Proving that a diagnosis was missed can be a challenging proposition. The plaintiff must show that the doctor missed the diagnosis by failing to follow best practices in diagnosing symptoms. Also, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the patient’s outcome would have been better if the condition were diagnosed sooner. This requires the help of medical experts as well as help from skilled and experienced medical malpractice attorneys who know how to request and review medical records, understand witness testimony, and prepare and present a powerful, convincing legal case proving facts that show a violation of Florida law. The attorneys at Masterson, Hoag & Smith have been helping medical malpractice victims for decades and have recovered millions of dollars for victims of missed diagnoses and other medical negligence.
Help is Available for Misdiagnosis Errors in St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay
If you believe that you were harmed by a doctor’s or hospital’s misdiagnosis error in Tampa Bay, call Masterson, Hoag & Smith at 727-896-3641 for a free consultation with a dedicated and successful St. Petersburg medical malpractice attorney.